The Three Rule Template

07-28-14Three Rules Ruler Clip Art
Good thoughts from Andy Partington today–whether it’s in your ministry, your home and your frienships, these are worth considering and applying.

Rules are good. God gave them to us. Not to punish us but to give us a great life to be lived for Him.
So why do we have such a problem presenting them to our children?
Have you ever presented your rules only to find little Mitchell with his hand raised poised to ask “why”?
Did you have trouble answering him?

Here are three easy guide steps to give you a surefire one, two, three, punch rule system that is sure to catch on with your kids, be loved by your workers, and take away stress from your behavior management system.
Let’s take a look.

1. Honor God: This rule is all about our relationship with God. It gets us thinking about why God put us together in the first place and what behaviors would He like best in this situation. The ways we can honor God might be, not to talk unless spoken to, not to leave your seat, or just to simply listen.

2. Honor your neighbor: This rule focuses on how we relate to the people around us. I love rule number 2, and here’s why. Every group has a “bell cow”, the one that makes the most noise and leads the others to wherever the bell cow leads. Once the bell cow gets rule two, he can be a driving force for good.

3. Have an attitude of gratitude: The final rule checks our motivation and attitudes. Whatever may happen, kids need to know that we can have fun during almost anything. If they’ve heard the story before, if they don’t get picked for the game, etc.

These rules can have your personality. There can even be more than three. But these three templates can serve as a general guide for setting up your own kids ministry rules. Do you have any to add or ways to creatively embellish the three rule template?

Andy Partington is the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at http://www.andypartingtonblog.com

3 Things Every Boy Needs To Hear

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In the coming weeks, I will be sharing some blogspace with two friends of mine in the children’s ministry world. Today’s post is from Andy Partington, children’s pastor in Louisiana.

A lot of time has been spent in my ministry on recruiting men, fathers especially, to volunteer with children’s ministry. Our church has been blessed with a great group of guys who work the nursery, pass out snacks, go on camping trips, drive vans, and lead worship for our kids. It’s a great privilege to see men and women serve alongside each other to reach boys and girls for Christ.

But there is another reason I have for bringing men into our ministry to children. In the community around us and all over the country it seems there is an absence of fathers. A boy may grow up in a two parent household, but the true paternal role is rarely ever seen. Boys have a list of essential needs that only a father or male role model can supply. We need to make sure that they hear:

“I love you”
It’s a basic human need to be loved. We were created to love and be loved by God. Despite this fact, it can sometimes be a huge hurdle as a man to express love to your sons and an even larger one to the boys that aren’t a part of your household. Yet, the need is still there. Find ways to say it, to show it in the way you live, to be an example of love to even the greatest discipline problems that you face. It will make such a difference and you will begin to see trust form in the eyes of the young men that you serve.

“I’m proud of you”Often times, it’s easy for the men in children’s Sunday school classes to become the “enforcer of rules” and the major disciplinarian in the class. This is absolutely fine, but we miss out on an opportunity to serve and show Christ-like love by not telling kids the good things that they’re doing. Point out when boys are well behaved. Take time to mention how good they did during the relay or scripture memory game. Give praise when praise is due. All too often, our boys don’t get the praise they deserve from dads and men in ministry.

“You’re good.”
This is a little different than “I’m proud of you”. I think everyone can benefit from knowing that we have the potential to be virtuous. The statement “You’re good” transcends pride and acknowledges that a boy can have and does have value in your eyes. I’ve seen this simple phrase melt the hearts of the most hardened elementary bullies.

I hope that this list of things that boys need is helpful to you. It’s certainly not exhaustive. Can you think of other ways to reach out and touch the lives of the young men in your church or community? Maybe there are some things that you felt you didn’t have that you needed growing up? Maybe there was a memorable moment in your development that you can look back on and bring to the table as you minister to your sons and the boys under your care.

Andy Partington is the Minister to Preschoolers and Children at First Baptist Minden, Louisiana. You can find out more about him at andypartingtonblog.com

Thanks for the Memories–Mama Mia Monday

camp wordsblackandwhite

I spent last week teaching at our local church camp. It was a great week! Teaching God’s Word is one of my all time favorite things to do, and teaching it at camp is like the icing on the cake of Bible teaching goodness.

While talking with some campers, they asked me how long I had been coming to camp, and although I wasn’t quite sure exactly how long it had ,I did remember one of my first times teaching was at a week of camp I went to when our son, Connor, who is now 26 was in the 7th grade.

“Woah! That’s a long time ago.”

“Thanks, campers.”

What made it especially cool though was that Connor was our missionary for the week. He now serves in Russia as an English and Bible teacher, and I am so thankful for the memories that we have made and are continuing to make as we have these precious opportunities to serve God together even though we are miles apart.

I told them how we used to teach upstairs above our slightly dilapidated bath domes and in shelter houses scattered around the camp. I recounted how I had taught in one of the shelters near our old outdoor chapel (before we got air conditioning in a retreat center) and had written the key points to my lesson in chalk in the beams of the shelter house. And I told them how the last time I checked (a couple of years ago) the words were still there.

So, of course, we took a quick adventure to see if anyone had yet dared to erase the “immortal” words of the summer of 2001, and alas they had not–the words were still there. The picture above is reinforced the heart of lessons on being servants of God.

That summer as I taught those lessons Connor was a camper, and he and I never told anyone that we were related. Oh a few people knew, but as I told stories of my sons and some of our teachable moments, the spotlight stayed off Connor and on God and His Word. At the end of the week, we had the “big reveal” and as I told the campers that my son was actually at camp as a camper, they wouldn’t believe it and we had a great laugh and made a great memory.

In the years since, both my boys and I have spent quite a few summers together at camp. Through those times of serving together, we grew as family, we grew in our faith and we lived out the words of the shelter house as we became servants of God. And we made memories. Lots of them.

Mama Mia! Lots of memories. Memories of rap songs, baptisms, a guy named Pierre, mildew in the camp, catching snakes, heat stroke, “keep away from the water balloons!” going back to the beginning and so much more. Oh so much more.

So Mamas, let me encourage you today that a great way to make lasting memories with your children is to serve with them–side by side. Find a project, go on a mission trip, serve at a camp. . . .let God grow you closer and bind your hearts together as you serve Him together.

Mama Mia! I’m thankful for the memories!

Be Strong and Do The Work–Dadderday

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Wow! I can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve had/made the time to blog. Thoughts are continually swirling in my head, but the tyranny of the urgent often takes over before I get them into print. I think that’s how it is in parenting sometimes. Little things keep popping up that keep us from other things that really need to get done.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not in any way saying that writing down some thoughts in a blog is equivalent to the task of parenting children. Yet the principle still holds true that we often let things that seem bigger trump things that seem smaller, and as my small group and I are discovering this summer, the small things often are the big things, we just don’t always realize it.

So Dads, (and the moms who read blogs for dads!) today I want to give you a small reminder of the importance of parenting your children and “doing the work” that needs to be done. It comes from a couple of small verses of Scripture tucked away inside of the book of I Chronicles–yeah, I know, it’s not the normal source of our Bible verse  of the day–but it should be! Anyway, here’s what one dad said to his son:

Any you, my son, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with a wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”  I Chronicles 28:9-10

And then he continues a few verses later with:

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” I Chronicles 28:20

David was talking to Solomon when he was about to become king about building the permanent temple which would include the place where God would reside. As believers, we are now the place where God resides, and the task of training up our children to know the Lord, follow Him, and to live as His dwelling place can be a daunting task.

But don’t be discouraged. God will not fail you. He will not leave you. You’ve got the this.  Simply remember the words of David and acknowledge God, serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; seek Him; be strong and courageous and do the work. And have a great Dadderday doing it!!

Use Your Words. . . Tiny Tot Tuesday

love

“Use your words.”

This is a phrase I often hear moms use with their children. As young children learn to speak, it’s often hard for them to find the right words from their limited vocabulary, and so they can easily get frustrated. With frustration, comes whining, crying and yes, even sometimes the occasional temper tantrum–from both child and parent! Learning to use our words helps communicate our thoughts and our heart, and although some might say love needs to be shown rather than said, I suppose I’ve always been a believer that it’s a combination of both.

Since it’s February and almost Valentine’s Day I’ve been thinking about love. When it comes to teaching our children about love, I mean really teaching them about love, using our words can be a huge asset.

This month in our children’s department at church we are teaching our children I Corinthians 13:4-8 which says,

“Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not proud. It isn’t rude.
It’s not self seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

Using this Scripture as a model, we can begin to use our words to teach our children about love.

For example:
1) You are going to the grocery store. You know there is a great probability that you will have to wait in line to check out and they/you will begin to get impatient, angry, you may want to say something that is just a little rude or you may find yourself a little jealous of the line next to you that is going a little faster.

You can begin to use your words before you ever enter the store, and so you can say, “Before we go into the store, let’s choose to show love. We are going to be patient if our line is slow. Let’s think of something kind we can say to the worker, because love is kind.”

2) Starting to get angry? (Not at me, at our imaginary trip to the store!) You can simply say, “Let’s look around what do we have to be thankful for. We don’t want to start getting angry, because love is not easily angered.” Then refocus that energy by counting candy bars or playing thumb wars or saying a little prayer for the people around you and yourselves.

3) When your child tells the truth about something–and not just when they have been in trouble–Rejoice!! Tell them you are rejoicing. Tell them why you are rejoicing. Because love rejoices with the truth, and truth is good and you want to honor that.

4) Your children are bickering (yes it will still happen) and tattling about current or past offenses. Have your child make a list of positive things about the person they are upset with to replace their “record of wrongs” list. Use your words to remind them that “love does not keep a record of wrongs.”

I’m sure you get the idea. There are so many ways that we can speak love into our children’s lives as it relates to how they treat others. Sometimes it just comes down to staying intentional and remembering to make the most of those teaching able moments.

Because aren’t you thankful that God is patient with us? I am so thankful that He is not easily angered and keeps no record of our wrongs. He is not a God who delights in evil, but rather He rejoices with the truth, and He protects us, is kind to us and He will endure beyond forever.

These are great words to use with our tiny tots.

Disclaimer–I was going to share some fun Valentine craft for you to do with your children, but decided to “use my words” instead. For great Valentine craft ideas, feel welcome to kindly check out Pinterest! I’m sure you’ll find something you love!

Why I Will No Longer Accept Your Child’s Facebook Friend Request–Mama Mia Monday

like-us-on-facebook

Got another one–

Last week I received another facebook friend request from a child I know, and I just can’t click confirm.

I will admit I have accepted requests in the past. I talked with some friends about it, read some articles and finally relented with the belief that since their parents were allowing it, it was still a chance for me to connect with them and even to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

But I was wrong.

Because in doing so, I affirmed to them that it’s okay to lie, that it’s okay to lie with your parents’ permission, and that I, as their children’s ministry leader, think a little lying must be okay.

Yet, that’s not what I believe at all.

I’ve been a part in putting them in danger of identity theft, bullying (from either side), child predators, negative self image (both physical and mental) and entrance to an adult world they weren’t meant to join until they were, well, adults.

Yet, I could never imagine doing that intentionally.

Children are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences to some of their actions or the concept of marketing. Facebook is designed to target those who sign up for it. So when a child registers with a false age beyond their years, they are now targeted with ads for someone “beyond their years.” This includes sites about drinking, gambling, meeting singles and more.

In the United States it is illegal to collect information on people under the age of thirteen–one of the reasons facebook doesn’t allow children under the age of thirteen to have an account. I find it ironic how often we get upset when the government lies or acts unethically, yet now we are enabling that process. In fact, we have become the very thing we say we abhor.

And why?

I’m not sure. Some of the reasons I hear are so that our children can have friends, have fun or be like everyone else. Some parents have admitted they just didn’t want to tell their children, “No.” They didn’t want the fight. Others have said they felt like the lie wasn’t really a big thing because they are monitoring what their kids are doing on their pages.

We, as the adults in their lives, are supposed to help our kids navigate the waters of character and integrity. We are supposed to model for them virtues like truth, honesty, patience and self control. These underage users–Wow! That’s a startling term considering the addictive nature of social media– aren’t quite yet capable to understand the whole “when it’s okay to lie and when it’s not okay to lie” thing isn’t really supposed to be a thing. Apparently we, as adults, aren’t either.

Mama Mia!

**In 2011, ABC news reported that it was estimated that almost 7.5 million facebook accounts were used by underage children who were using facebook with their parents’ permission. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/underage-facebook-members-75-million-users-age-13/story?id=13565619

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

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One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)

Kids Answers–Thankful Thursday

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It has been reported that more than one half a million people tuned into the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate earlier this week. I was one of those, at least for most of the time. I’m not here to debate the debate, but rather to express my thanks to Mr. Ham for his grace in sharing the gospel, his strong conviction to the Word of God, and his ministry to children.

Ham and the team at Answers to Genesis continue to do a phenomenal job at providing resources and teaching that equip people with the truth of God’s Word and the evidence of His creation. Ham’s Kids Answers Magazine is a resource I had, quite honestly, forgotten about until after the debate. In looking back at the Answers in Genesis website, I came across the online version of the magazine. There is so much great stuff for kids here: videos, puzzles, weekly articles and a variety of activities, plus a special section just for parents.

Here’s the link: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ka

It’s simply a great resource for you and your kids–those in your home or your classroom.

Answers in Genesis also offers church curriculum, Vacation Bible School material and if you are planning a trip in your near future, be sure to consider The Creation Museum. It’s located just seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, and is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. When you buy your tickets they are good for two days making them a great buy. My pastor/boss/friend, his children and grandchildren spent time there last year and they are still talking about what a fabulous time they had.

So today I find myself thankful for a ministry who is willing to take the time and make the commitment to help see that kids have the answers to some of the most important questions they may ever ask, and for helping children see that God made them and loves them and that He is, indeed, the Lord of all Creation.

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ark

http://creationmuseum.org/

Boys to Men–Mama Mia Monday

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Well, prepare yourself for a week of post wedding posts! You won’t hurt my feelings at all if you decide to pass right on by, but as I decompress from wedding weekend palooza, there are still so many things that I treasure from our time.

One of those has to do with Trevor’s friends. One of the terms they use to describe their lives and the things they have done is “grown man saga.” I know that as I talked with them and observed them this weekend I’m more likely to choose “Boys to Men.” Not Boyz II Men, the group, but these boys have become and are becoming men, and I am so proud of them.

I don’t know all of their moms, but if their moms are reading this, I want them to know they, too, should be very proud of their sons.

Because as they are transitioning from boys to men, they are growing in character. This weekend we watched them as they cared about others more than themselves. Our sons know how to work and serve. They honor the women in their lives and the women around them. They are friendly, kind and compassionate, all the while exuding strength, masculinity and a strong competitive spirit. They can cook, clean, cry and wrestle–oh can they wrestle. They still love bubbles, wearing sheriff’s badges and silly hats. Those that have already married are devoted to their their wives. They love God, and they are willing to sacrifice to serve Him.

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nelson

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Mama Mia! These are the boys we dreamed of raising. And how did we do it?

Jesus. Grace. Commitment. Forgiveness. Perseverance. Love, lots of love. Prayer, lots of prayer. Tears, lots of tears.

We’ve allowed them to fail, to fall, to make mistakes that they had to wrestle out with God as He humbled them, molded them and shaped them; and we’ve allowed God to do the same to us.

We’ve encouraged them, disciplined them, maybe even been a bit, just a bit, frustrated with them. But we didn’t give up on them, and God in his infinite wisdom and grace stepped in and where we were weak, He was strong; where we were inadequate, He was capable; where we may have failed, He is bringing victory.

I saw great things in these boys this weekend. I saw the character of Christ in them. I saw it in Trevor, and I saw it in Kyle, Nelson, Sunshine, Chase, Zach, Miller, Daniel, Cameron, Creighton, Austin, Tyler, Ryan, Scott and the boys of Boatman, Williamson and Strong Halls, and it made me proud to know them.

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Even more, it makes me proud to know the God that is helping moms everywhere raise their sons from Boys to Men. Don’t give up moms, because while this going from Boys to Men thing may not always be pretty, it is a beautiful thing to behold.

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Advent-ures in Christmas (Dadderday!)

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Hey Dads,

Usually it seems as though the moms take on these kinds of jobs–y’know, things like Christmas crafts and family devotions. But what if this year, that was a little bit different? What if this year you initiated the spiritual side of Christmas? I’m not saying you have to do it all alone. If there is a mom in your family’s picture, I hope she would be willing to work with you on this one, but if not, don’t be afraid to jump in and tackle the December adventure known as advent.

Advent simply means “coming,” as in Jesus is coming! Celebrating advent is a way to help your children, your family, to focus on that real meaning of Christmas we all hope to find.

Advent is more than just calendars with candy and prizes, it’s a way to pass on our heritage as believers and to create a spiritual foundation for your children.

The Jesse Tree is a great way to not only engage your children, but to get engaged with your children and the Christmas story.

The Jesse Tree comes from the book of Isaiah, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”  (Isaiah 11:1),  and dates back to the middle ages.

Jesse_Tree

More recently Geraldine McCaugherean has written a delightful book that has interwoven a story that takes you day by day through the symbols of the Jesse tree. Each passage is a quick glimpse into the life of a local carver who is creating a Jesse tree and a local boy who comes to bother visit him each day subtley tricking him into telling the stories. Of course, as the stories unfold, so does the story.

There are gajillions of ways to incorporate the symbols into your own family’s life. One is available here: http://printables.yourway.net/christmas/jesse-tree-ornaments/  free printables that would allow your children to color and create the symbols and gives you a scripture reading plan to coorelate them together.

 

Leading your family spiritually can be a little intimidting sometimes, but c’mon dads, get in on the “Advent-ure” this December with your kids and The Jesse Tree, and make every day in December a Dadderday!

jess tree 3     JT-jessetree  jesse tree 2